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National Commission for Women (NCW)

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections


Source: IE

 Context: The cases of molestation and rape of women in Manipur have brought the functioning of Women’s commissions in India into focus.


National Commission for Women (NCW):

  • It is a statutory body of the Government of India that was founded on January 31, 1992, by the National Commission for Women Act, 1990.
  • Its mandate is to:
    • Review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women;
    • Recommend remedial legislative measures;
    • Facilitate redressal of grievances and
    • Advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
  • Functions:
    • Investigate and examine all issues concerning the protection provided to women under the Constitution and other legislation.
    • Report on the effectiveness of those safeguards to the Central Government.
    • Make recommendations in such reports for the effective application of those protections.
    • Propose corrective legislative actions to address any flaws in laws.
    • Investigate complaints and take suo moto action in cases involving the denial of women’s rights.


The Manipur State Commission for Women (MSCW):

  • Each state also has its own commission and MSCW was constituted in 2006 as a statutory body under the Manipur State Commission for Women Act, 2006.
  • It is mandated to safeguard the interests of women with a wide mandate that covers all aspects of women’s development.


Major Issues around the Working of Women Commission:

  • Financial assistance provided to the Commissions is extremely less to cater to its needs.
  • Their members are appointed by the government and therefore lack the independence to work without the influence of the government.
  • They lack concrete legislative power. For example, its reports are only recommendatory.


Implications of the above:

  • These commissions at the national and state levels have become toothless tigers, failing to prioritise field visits over paperwork.
  • Most of the commissions are afraid to criticise the governments.


Case of Manipur:

  • The NCW had received a large number of complaints about the violation of women’s rights in the state.
  • The NCW forwarded them to the state. The state police or its other wings probably ignored the forwards or did not have time to do justice to each of them.


Way ahead:

  • Commissions need to be strengthened (either by giving them Constitutional status or by amending their parent laws) so that they can concentrate on providing physical, emotional, legal and psychological aid to women in distress.
  • Advertising the posts of chairpersons and members of these commissions.
  • Genuinely interested and capable individuals would then be selected by a selection committee – consisting of LoP, judges from the SC, civil society organisations, etc.
  • A social audit of the performance of different commissions by competent external agencies on a regular basis would give citizens an idea of their actual work.
  • There is a need for an increase of awareness and enlightenment especially required mainly among women in rural areas that such a commission exists to address their rights.


Conclusion: Women’s commissions in India were set up with a lot of high expectations. However, a review of their work and responses to the issues of women is the immediate need of the hour to prevent incidents like Manipur.


Insta Links:

NCW issues memo on prevention of sexual harassment


Mains Links:

Is the National Commission for Women able to strategize and tackle the problems that women face at both public and private spheres? Give reasons in support of your answer. (UPSC 2017)